- Spotlight review by Count Otto Black
This is the kind of film that automatically gets rave reviews because nobody in their right mind disagrees with the point it's making, and it almost seems as if you're on the side of paedophile priests if you admit you don't like it. But unfortunately it isn't quite as good as many reviews claim. It's not bad, and there are some very committed performances, but it has to be said that Michael Keaton struggles to be anywhere near as interesting as he was in the superb "Birdman", probably because his character here gives him a lot less scope for characterization.
In fact, the whole movie is oddly flat. Priests commit crimes which we aren't shown, and the ghastly details of which, though we are told fairly graphically what they are, occupy as little screen-time as possible. Which is understandable; an explicit film about child abuse would be unwatchable, and possibly illegal. However, combined with the fact that we barely meet the guilty priests at all (since this is a film about real events and people who are still alive, they probably had to tread very carefully indeed around certain legal issues), this means that it's basically a movie in which some increasingly upset reporters hear second-hand about horrible misdeeds mostly done a long time ago and write a newspaper story about it, rather slowly.
Attempts at suspense are token, to put it mildly. Will Mark Ruffalo be able to photocopy the vital documents before the church gets another injunction put on them? Since we know in advance that the story did in fact run, yeah, I guess so. Will he be able to do this before a rival paper finds out about these documents and scoops the story? Frankly, who cares? With a movie like "Apollo 13", even though we know the astronauts will survive because it's a historical fact that they did, the situation they're in is so horrendously perilous that it's still a real nail-biter. But here, the guilt of the abusive priests is established from the outset, and the only real question is whether the exposé these journalists are eventually going to publish months later will be as damning as they want it to be, or not quite that bad because Vatican lawyers managed to legally restrict access to certain bits of paper.
Frankly, it's one-note, with none of the escalation of tension you need in any kind of dramatic story. And although the entire cast, especially Mark Ruffalo, are acting their socks off, the characters are so uninteresting that there are a couple of brief and very awkward scenes that obviously exist solely for the purpose of establishing that these people have some sort of life other than the very specific and limited thing they devote themselves to for 99% of the movie. The level of commitment the cast bring to the film makes it genuinely moving, but ultimately they needed a better script if they were going to make it truly great. The scriptwriters were obviously heavily influenced by "All The President's Men", perhaps a bit too much, but in the end this is one of those films which gets a couple of extra stars for really, really trying to do the right thing. I'm reviewing it purely as a movie, and I'm afraid it's not that great.
7 out of 13 members found this review helpful.
Excellent expose of church child abuse all catholics must watch
- Spotlight review by PV
This is a highly enjoyable film and also disturbing - the massive abuse of children by the Catholic church and the way that institution covered it up for decades (centuries?) and just moved priests to other parishes to abuse again, is truly disgraceful and shocking.
It's an 'All the President's Men' for the 21st century.
Some may say it's a bit one-note but I can see no other way to tell this tale. There are enough subplots and extra characters (the devout grandmother Catholic; the abused now grown up after surviving drugs and drink; the deluded priests who thought the abuse was OK; the devious church leaders who resist the truth to protect the church; the dodgy lawyers; the population of very Catholic Boston who in effect knew what was happening but put loyalty to the church before protecting children. 'Good Germans' indeed.
Good acting; standard plot. Utterly believable. This movie well deserved its awards.
A bit too long, however, and so can lose momentum and drag a little in the middle. Hence 4 stars and not 5.
I would say, however, that all institutions can behave like this - the instinct of institutions and their loyal defenders is self-preservation. So we have seen similar patterns of corruption and cover up in the police, schools, councils, universities etc.
I am also convinced that there are similar abuse scandals in other religious institutions which also demand total unquestioning loyalty - from mosques, temples etc and that there is a huge hidden problem of abuse in Muslim, Hindu and Sikh institutions. I doubt anyone would dare to investigate that, though.
1 out of 2 members found this review helpful.
Watergate goes Catholic
- Spotlight review by NC
Not quite All the Presidents Men, but along that direction. Alas, is an ongoing story in most countries, and still not fully addressed by the Vatican, but opened up, once again, by journalists as opposed to police authorities. As is shown, the police often helped hide the events in fact.
The spotlight team quite well depicted in the film, and Keaton does his intense thing, and maintains a thread throughout a complicated series of events.
Expect you have seen Dreamteam and Birdman, but check Paciffic Heights, if have missed it. Quite an old/slow film now, but Michael is well creepy in that............
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.